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Top Ten Films About Moving Abroad

There’s nothing like a romantic, beautifully shot film set far, far away to give you itchy feet and maybe even instigate a move abroad. Whether your’e looking for inspiration or researching a leap overseas, here are our top ten films about moving abroad;


1. Lost in Translation

When two Americans in Tokyo, Bob and Charlotte, meet each other in their hotel they strike up an unlikely friendship built on shared feelings of culture-shock and isolation.

Feelings of culture-shock will be familiar to many expats. This beautiful, poignant film perfectly captures the disconnection, excitement and confusion of being flung into foreign culture familiar to all expats.

2. Casablanca

In this classic tale of love across the world, Humphrey Bogart portrays Rick, the quintessential American abroad, whose love affair with fellow expat Ilsa, played by Ingrid Bergman, raises familiar themes of separation and anxiety. The film’s portrayal of life in Morocco captures the excitement, glamour and adventure of moving abroad.

3. Eat Pray Love

Based on the acclaimed memoir, this film tells the true story of Elizabeth Gilbert who set off around the world to restore spiritual and emotional balance after realising she is unhappy in both her marriage and career. The enticing depiction of Italy’s delicious cuisine, India’s harmonious spirituality and Bali’s romantic beauty are enough to give anyone itchy feet.

4. The Beach

Filmed in spectacular locations such as Phi Phi Leh Island and Krabi, The Beach has drawn thousands of backpackers and expats to Thailand. Like many impatient, ambitious twenty-somethings, the film’s protagonist, Richard (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), is bored of the 9-5 grind and screen-obsessed world of his native America and goes in search of a more fulfilling existence, traveling Asia and eventually finding ‘paradise’ on a Thai beach. While it is not quite the utopia he hopes for, his search will be familiar to many young travellers.

5. Out of Africa

When Karen Dinesen married Baron Bror von Blixen in 1913, like many young couples without family ties, they made the decision to move abroad, leaving their native Denmark to set up a dairy farm in East Africa. The cinematography encapsulates the beauty of the Kenyan landscape. While modern immigrants will not have to contend with World Wars and primitive aviation, their experience of settling into a new culture and becoming part of an expat community still resonates today.

6. Shirley Valentine

Shirley Valentine is a bored Liverpudlian housewife who jets off to Greece with her friend on holiday and ultimately decides not to get the flight home. This funny, poignant film demonstrates how a move abroad can broaden your horizons and give you a new lease of life.

7. Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Vicky Cristina Barcelona is another example of how moving abroad can open your eyes and free you from the constraints of your ‘home’ life. The vibrant, passionate atmosphere and beautiful scenery of Catalunia transform Vicky and Cristina’s lives as they jump into their exciting adventure abroad.

8. Outsourced

For many, it is their career that leads them abroad, whether a planned move or forced relocation. This is the case for Todd, the American born hero of Outsourced who finds himself travelling to India to train his replacement when the call centre he manages is closed down and moved to Mumbai. Like many who have faced this situation, he is initially anxious and overwhelmed by his new home, but soon falls in love with the rich culture and pretty surroundings.

9. The Year of Living Dangerously

Mel Gibson’s Australian correspondent, Guy, is the archetypal rookie expat who discovers the exotic beauty of Indonesia. The stunning locations appeal to the most wary traveller, although most potential expats don’t have a political revolution to contend with.

10. A Room With a View

EM Forster’s classic tale of the British in Italy was impeccably adapted by Merchant Ivory in 1985, capturing Florence and the surrounding countryside in all its beauty. From the squeamish stiff-upper-lip of Miss Bartlett to the apparently free-spirited Miss Lavish, we see every type of expat wonderfully caricatured. We also see the young hero’s of the story find love in the romantic, exotic setting, where they eventually settle together.

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